Saturday 20 April 2019

My big, fat, tacky child's pageant

Pageant star: Honey Boo Boo now has her own TV show
Pageant star: Honey Boo Boo now has her own TV show

Okay, in the spirit of public interest broadcasting, I've decided to grant you lot a little favour.

It's not much of a favour, but it is a Tuesday, and the weather's kinda crappy and everyone feels a bit off their game; a bit 13 o'clock around this time of the year.

So, just to get your Tuesday morning off to a good, self-righteous and morally indignant start, how about we talk about that controversial pageant, eh?

This is the controversial cattle mart of cute kiddies that is guaranteed to have parents frothing at the mouth and demanding that this sick, depraved and twisted display of prepubescent flesh must be banned immediately, in order to prevent our most natural precious recourse, the children.

Of course, the image of an American child pageant immediately evokes two pretty horrific cases – JonBenét Ramsey and Honey Boo Boo.

The Ramsey case captured everyone's attention, as has Honey Boo Boo, for entirely different, although very American, reasons.

Where JonBenét was the precocious six-year-old with the kind of parents who represent everything that is stuffy, repressed and frankly weird about Stepford Suburbia, Honey Boo Boo is their Deep South cousin-in-cliché – cracker parents as feckless and red-neck as the Ramsey's were buttoned-down and WASP.

Two sides of an American coin that nobody wants to spend.

So, the news that next Saturday's American-style Universal Pageant will go ahead at a secret location in Dublin, added to the fact that the darlin' of American pageants, Eden Wood, has been forced to hire bodyguards to accompany her, has certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons.

In fact, we have seen outraged parents demand that the event be cancelled.

We have seen hotels trip over themselves in an effort to publicly reassure people that their estimable venue would never stoop so low as to host such a morally dubious event and this is because, we have been told, we're a country that cherishes our children, not exploit them for the edification of grown-ups.

Then, you only have to throw in an event organiser in the shape of Annette Hill, who was on radio this week, a pushy, defensive woman who, by the quaint standards of Irish discourse, seems completely and utterly mad.

Not bad. Not motivated by ill intent. Just completely bonkers in that strange American way that proves we're separated by far more than merely the same language.

So, I'm sure we can all agree that this parade of perky, suspiciously tanned pre-teens is something that shouldn't be tolerated?

After all, previous attempts to stage a similar event have been kyboshed in recent years as angry citizens mobilised themselves and used their much vaunted parent power to put a stop to it.

Like any relatively normal, vaguely functioning adult, I find these things weird, morally dodgy and genuinely cannot understand why any parent would dress their daughter up like a mannequin and pretend she is some tiny adult.

But here's the thing – it's none of your business. It's none of my business.

It is the business, purely, of the organisers and the parents. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that it's also none of the kids' business. They're just doing what they're told by pushy parents.

As icky as most of us feel about such a thing – and I doubt I'm alone in wondering about the sanity and motivation of any parent who subjects their child to this – where's the difference between this and the way we see girls being inappropriately fetishised on their Communion Day?

The pageant may well be unpleasant, and the organiser, Annette Hill, based on her comments, doesn't exactly strike you as someone you'd want to hang out with.

But what they're doing isn't illegal and the only sour taste is the one left by permanently outraged moral arbiters who want to ban something just because they don't approve of it.

You're a parent and you don't like the idea of the Universal Royalty pageant taking place this weekend?

Well, just bring your kids to the zoo instead and allow those parents who want to participate, to participate.

After all, if you start banning pageants then you may as well try simply ban people from making bad parental choices and the leaves one awkward question . . . who decides what to ban and what is acceptable?


So, Jezza Paxman's facial hair is once more the topic of conversation.

In fact, there hasn't been a more controversial beard since Helen Hunt was rumoured to be dating Kevin Spacey.

Interestingly, Harriet Harperson has once more stuck her interfering beak into matters that don't concern her and has complained that: "It's fine for the BBC to let Jeremy Paxman go grey and grow a beard. But they wouldn't let a woman do that."

Oh, I don't know about that.

I reckon it could be quite interesting to see some bumbling politician trying to stay on message on Newsnight as the nearest Bearded Lady from a local circus asked him about his policies . . .


A family in Cardiff was shocked to discover some meat in a cheese and onion pasty they bought in a branch of Morrison's. Fair enough.

The Khans then complained that the meat wasn't Halal. They were offered a bottle of champagne by way of apology, which, says family patriarch, Majid Khan: "Was an insult twice over to our religion, they should know more about being a Muslim."

I agree with Mr Khan.

In fact, from now on, everyone who works in a supermarket should be made to become a theological scholar who is expert on the myriad irrational, illogical and thoroughly insane rules that religions make up for those who follow them.

And you thought stacking shelves was easy . . .

Irish Independent

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